CCARDESA launches a climate smart agriculture mobile app for extension officers

27 Nov 2019

Agricultural extension officers need better information about the opportunities for climate smart practices and technologies at their fingertips, when being in the field. This allows them to work together with farmers to discuss what the best strategies are on a specific farm to adapt to the impacts of climate change, while at the same time increasing agricultural productivity.

The Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) launched its first knowledge sharing mobile application on 27th November 2019 in Johannesburg, to help with this challenge – and lots more!  

The mobile app has the following features:

1. Providing (filtered) access to the CCARDESA knowledge products on climate change adaptation in agriculture;

2. An interactive quiz to learn more about climate change and agriculture topics in a fun way;

3. A forum to allow users to discuss pertinent agricultural issues in the SADC Region;

4. A directory of registered users who can interact with each other.

Developing such an app was an interesting challenge. To build on the best experiences available, CCARDESA hosted a brainstorming workshop to bring together local, regional and international IT and app development experts with agriculture and extension experts. The key challenge posed to the group was to come up with an app that provides useful features for extension officers, that it works offline and does not come with huge data requirements. Over two days, participants discussed opportunities for an app that meets these complex criteria.

At the end stands a mobile app designed to work offline – only the discussion forum and user directory need internet to update. People directories and discussions that were missed while offline automatically update once the phone is back online. The app comes with a small initial download of about 20 Mb and does not require much data as it utilises web-services to deliver content to the app (approximately 200 kb). This is a significant achievement as heavy download requirements or highly limited functionality would negatively impact usability, efficacy and uptake by stakeholders.

The app was designed in a distributed content framework, which means that the app is dynamic. CCARDESA invites the app users to contribute to the further development of content on the app. Help us develop new quizzes, participate in discussions and register as a user to allow this dynamic network of practitioners, farmers and researchers to grow.

The app can be accessed from the Google Play Store by searching for ‘CCARDESA Mobile’. The Apple App Store version will follow soon.

This app was developed in collaboration with the SADC Climate Change Adaptation to Climate Change in Rural Areas (ACCRA) programme, which is being implemented by the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and CCARDESA, funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Technical design, development and implementation of the mobile app for CCARDESA was conducted by Hatfield Consultants Africa and MindQ under contract to GIZ ACCRA.

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